Russia’s invasion of Ukraine creating global upheaval, and war, conflict, and unrest blighting all parts of the world in 2022. The UN stressed the importance of international dialogue, and announced plans for a new peace agenda.
February saw a furious round of diplomacy at the UN, as it became increasingly clear that Russia was intent on invading Ukraine, a crisis which UN Secretary-General António Guterres said was testing the “entire international system”.
“We need restraint and reason. We need de-escalation now,” spelled out the UN chief, urging all sides to “refrain from actions and statements that would take this dangerous situation over the brink”. These calls were in vain, however, and the war, which Russia described as a “special military operation,” began.
The conflict took on a significance far beyond its effect on Ukraine and Russia. Global fuel and food prices soared, and the UN trade body UNCTADidentified the war as the main contributing factor to projections of a global economic downturn, in a world still reeling from the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dark memories of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant explosion in 1986 were revived, when the Zaporizhzhia plant in southeastern Ukraine, the largest in Europe, came under Russian military control.
The UN nuclear watchdog (IAEA) warned of potentially catastrophic consequences, expressing concern at the alarming conditions of the plant, and the shelling that took place not far from the reactors. Fighting in the vicinity of a nuclear plant was, said IAEA chief Rafael Grossi in November, “playing with fire”.
An highlight of UN diplomacy this year was undoubtedly the successful implementation of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which saw exports resume from Ukrainian ports in July, and paved the way for Russian food and fertilizer to reach global markets, helping to slow the vertiginous rise in the price of grains, cooking oils, fuel